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Flowery Branch fencers close out season strong
Flowery Branch High School’s fencing team earned several first-place finishes at the On Guard Fencing League Championship, held at the University of North Georgia’s Gainesville campus in late March. - photo by For The Times

The Flowery Branch High fencing team capped off a strong season with a rewarding finish.

Hosting the On Guard Fencing League Championship at the University of North Georgia’s Gainesville campus in late March, the fencers racked up on hardware.

Zack Richards took first place for the year in men’s epee, with Konstantin Keller winning the men’s sabre season title and Ava Alabiso earning first place in women’s sabre.

Flowery Branch also collected first-place trophies for the season in men’s epee and men’s sabre for team performance.

Flowery Branch had the top school points total among the six teams with 297 for the season.

“It was a lot of fun to be able to keep the tradition up and continue to win,” said junior Daniel Torres.

Zachary Harward was third for the year in men’s epee and Richards third in men’s foil, with Danielle Mathis third in epee.
Mathis is a Johnson High student who fences with the Flowery Branch team, the lone such group in Hall County Schools.

In addition to those season honors, Flowery Branch’s group scored 14 medals for top-eight individual finishes at the finale.

Richards won the men’s epee finale to break a season tie with Lanier’s Jack Samuels, with teammates Harward and Paul Robbins tying for third and, Torres seventh and Elijah Seagraves eighth.

Multiple teammates pointed to Richards’ battle with Samuels as a highlight of the final weekend.

“He did exactly what he set out to do,” Alabiso said. “So I think it’s an awesome end to a really great season.”

Richards thrived on coming through for the title.

“We’re both equal skill,” Richards said. “It’s just a matter of who wants it more.”

Alabiso took second in women’s sabre, while Mathis was fifth in epee and sixth in foil.

Richards (third), Braden Parks (sixth) and Renato Augusto (seventh) all medaled in men’s foil, while Keller (third), Torres (fifth) and Jonathan Shubert (seventh) earned medals in men’s sabre.

The season-ending championship provided the first medal for some of Flowery Branch’s fencers, an opportunity Mathis particularly appreciated.

“It’s not always about winning, but the fact that they know that they can progress and get that good and giving them a boost of confidence that next year they can come back and do it again,” Mathis said.

Robbins’ tie for third in epee was his first fencing medal.

“It was the best I’ve ever done,” Robbins said. “I was able to pull off several different moves that I hadn’t been able to do before.”

Renato didn’t win his last match in finishing seventh in foil in the finale, but that didn’t dampen the experience for him.

“It was still awesome to fence him because everybody was behind me,” said Renato of his teammates’ support.

For some fencers, the championship weekend was the continuation of momentum built during the season.

That was the case for Harward, who defeated Jack Pugh for a medal a few meets before the finale.

“Ever since then, something about it boosted my confidence,” Harward said.

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